Anywhere Out There
There is a deep attachment to geography in Australia, because geography is historically the prime force, it’s the prime — it’s the biggest thing that exerts itself on us. There’s more geography than culture, there’s more geography than architecture.1 We live on the world’s biggest island, and their entire population is the size of some cities. Sao Paulo has more people in it than Australia. So, that kind of — your sensory palate is quite different to someone who, say, lives in a European environment, where the population density is higher, where the urbanization is much more dominant.2
And space I guess is — was my primary inheritance, the absence of people that — the spaces between people, the spaces between settlements, the gaps between built things does change the way you experience the world. So, when I went to Europe, for instance, for the first time when I was a 28 year old, or whatever I was. And having been told all during university that I was essentially a European, because I was pink I guess, and I spoke English. I get to Paris and realize that no, I’m not European, I happen to be sun damaged and speak good English, but by the — as a result of many generations of forebears having been native to this island, history and geography had made me different.
And nothing I could do about it. I guess I was a mongrel or a hybrid and happy to — finally happy to assume that title. It’s not just about history, it’s not just about language. I think geography is very rarely given its due, and looking at culture, I think in Australia that’s a case in point. And Western Australia, because it’s so far removed from the rest of Australia. I mean if you can imagine in North America where they had a hinterland. In the States, you can drive from New York to LA and there’ll be places on the way. By and large, in very significant patches of Australia, there will not be any places on the way. You have to carry your own fuel and water, because there isn’t anywhere out there.
There’s lots of geography, but there are no settlements, and there’s nothing kind of domesticated about the rest of the interior. And that makes it kind of mysterious, and it does impinge upon the mind consciously and unconsciously. It kind of — space still kind of leans in the window in Australia, whether you’re an urban person or whether you’re — you live mostly outside the cities.